Hi

Please help me to understand the following news story. It would be extremely kind of you. My comments are in blue, and my questions in red. Thank you very much.

Cameron's London riots speech raises British ire

Prime Minister David Cameron's speech yesterday about the roots of last week's riots had no shortage of critics.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at a youth center in Witney, his Parliamentary district in southern England, Monday, Aug. 15. In his speech yesterday, Cameron called London rioters the product of dysfunctional (something which is not working properly) families.

Alastair Grant/AP

A day after Prime Minister David Cameron called London rioters the product of dysfunctional families, the British press has seared (criticized) Mr. Cameron for his speech on the riots, saying he is seeking political gain while not grasping the roots of last week's violence.

Prime Minister Cameron "denied that racial tensions, poverty, or his government's controversial austerity cuts (cuts made to save money, funds) were to blame. He claimed there were around 120,000 problem families in Britain who had little respect for authority, singling out (with particular stress on) boys raised without a male role model as especially prone to 'rage and anger '," The Christian Science Monitor reported yesterday.

These riots were not about race: The perpetrators and the victims were white, black, and Asian. These riots were not about government cuts: They were directed at high (expensive) street stores, not Parliament ," said the Conservative prime minister. “And these riots were not about poverty: That insults the millions of people who, whatever the hardship, would never dream of making others suffer like this.

“No, this was about people showing indifference to right and wrong, people with a twisted (not in proper form) moral code, people with a complete absence of self-restraint," he said.

In the past 24 hours, opinion writers have weighed in (to give your opinion).

The Telegraph's editorial board wrote that while Cameron's speech mentioned the areas that need to be addressed, it lacked specific recommendations and showed little understanding of what could be done to turn the "broken society" around ("turn around" means to turn in opposite position or direction).

One headline said that the Prime Minister was laying out plans to “fix society”, and that rather captured the all-embracing nature of his ambition – as well as its scatter-gun impracticality ("scatter-gun" means covering a wide range in an haphazard manner and "impraticality" suggests something which is not wise to put into practice). For example, Mr Cameron said that the problem of police officers being snowed under (to be overwhelmed) by bureaucracy “will be fixed by completely changing the way the police work”. (What does this tell us? Is Mr Cameron's thinking of 'fixing' how people work an impractical approach?)



More immediately pressing (demanding), however, is the need to deal with the levels of criminality that we saw last week. Two thirds of those convicted of looting had previous convictions – testimony to the failings of the criminal justice system. The Prime Minister said that he was determined to “sort it out”, but did not explain how.

Across the board (the phrase usually means "to affect or include all people, classes, or categories", but I don't see how it fits here), Cameron critics accused him of political expediency (aimed at achieving a particular end) and of being unable to understand those not from his same socioeconomic background. Guardian social affairs editor Randeep Ramesh said he was "seeking opportunity in a moment of crisis."

The prime minister sought to (does "sought to" mean 'tried to' here?) identify "deeper problems" and came up with a sociological (directed toward social needs and problems) canard (fabricated or unfounded story): the culture of poverty .

This analysis is one that regards the chaotic lives of poor people as cause, not symptom, of the collapse of their communities . For the prime minister, these families and their children simply chose to be feckless (irresponsible), indolent (lazy) or on the wrong side of police lines.

Such talk will do much to harden public attitudes – helpful to a prime minister who wants to push draconian social policy through the Lords in the autumn (what does this line mean?). The rhetoric will profit the contentious welfare reforms, a policy built on the idea that poor people are "culturally" unique and dependent on welfare by their own design. (would you please tell me what this means?)

Guardian columnist Anne Perkins framed Cameron's speech as an attempt to change the public's understanding of the violence and bring them on board with the Conservative Party's agenda .

It was less about the speeches themselves than the underlying contest for how the riots are understood. For Cameron, they need to be seen as a question of personal responsibility and personal morality. That way he can repackage (to put into new form) the broken society. Moral rearmament pleases his long-standing critics on the right and feeds into his broader programme of welfare and educational reform. It also gives him an opportunity to sharpen the message: that, for example, the welfare state denies moral hazard (what does this mean?)

Cameron is credited with putting a kinder face on the Conservative Party, but after yesterday's speech – in which he brought up the Human Rights Act , the health and safety culture, and "120,000 dysfunctional families" as causes of society's problems – "the nasty party is making a comeback," Perkins argued.

Indeed, Guardian columnist John Harris said Cameron sounded more like Margaret Thatcher (what did Thatcher do?) than the progressive that he used to portray himself as. "Cameron was meant to be slightly different," Mr. Harris said. The old Cameron would have acknowledged the connections between "deprivation, and crime, disorder, and family dysfunction," Mr. Harris writes.

There is masses of this stuff in the archives: as late as November 2009 he was paying tribute to Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett's The Spirit Level , and saying things like this: "There's a massive difference between a system that allows fair reward for talent, effort and enterprise, and a system that keeps millions of people at the bottom locked out of the success enjoyed by the mainstream." He was talking about modern Britain. What happened?

Today he sounded cold, cynical, and occasionally quite odd. How did he end up making no reference to youth unemployment but decrying the Human Rights Act and that hoary old Aunt Sally (any person who is a target for insults or criticism), health and safety culture?

The riots of the 1980s bear many similarities to last week's riots, he said. "Then, as now, there was a spasm of over-the-top sentencing (excess of judicial sentencing, is this correct?) and political rhetoric accompanied by a rising sense that something in society was very wrong, which too many people at the top failed to grasp."

Margaret Thatcher's response engendered (produced) little admiration – "Not for the first time, she was unable to strike the right note when a broad sense of social understanding was required," The Times wrote. Its judgment of Ms. Thatcher's response could have just as easily (what does "as easily" mea here? The structure for such phrases is "as...as" but there no "as" after "easily") described Cameron yesterday, Harris wrote.

Original story: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2011/0816/Cameron-s-London-riots-speech-raises-British...
Nice article, this has loads of useful and formal vocab and structures Emotion: smile

Jackson6612For example, Mr Cameron said that the problem of police officers being snowed under (to be overwhelmed) by bureaucracy “will be fixed by completely changing the way the police work”. (What does this tell us? Is Mr Cameron's thinking of 'fixing' how people work an impractical approach?)
No, he's thinking of completely altering the way the police do everything - this means getting rid of a lot of the bureacracy (paperwork) that is currently stopping them from doing their real jobs properly. With less police officers stuck behind desks filling out meaningless forms, there will be more officers on the streets to actually protect people.

Jackson6612Across the board (the phrase usually means "to affect or include all people, classes, or categories", but I don't see how it fits here), Cameron critics accused him of political expediency (aimed at achieving a particular end) and of being unable to understand those not from his same socioeconomic background.
This quite simply means that critics from all areas, expertise, political ideologies etc have accused Cameron.

Jackson6612The prime minister sought to (does "sought to" mean 'tried to' here?) identify "deeper problems" and came up with a sociological (directed toward social needs and problems) canard (fabricated or unfounded story): the culture of poverty.
Yes Emotion: smile

Jackson6612Such talk will do much to harden public attitudes – helpful to a prime minister who wants to push draconian social policy through the Lords in the autumn (what does this line mean?).
Cameron hopes that speeches such as this will cause the public to become less sympathetic to the rioters. This will be helpful to Cameron, as he wants to pass a social policy bill through the House of Lords (the second legislative chamber in the UK, made up of bishops, lords, experts etc) in autumn. The writer of this article clearly thinks the bill is "draconian" (harsh - an allusion to a 7th century Greek statesman who punished pretty much everything with death).

Jackson6612The rhetoric will profit the contentious welfare reforms, a policy built on the idea that poor people are "culturally" unique and dependent on welfare by their own design. (would you please tell me what this means?)
Cameron's controversial welfare reforms will also benefit if people start to change their way of thinking to be less sympathetic to the rioters. These reforms contain the ideology that the poor are somehow 'different' to the rest of us. Cameron thinks that they depend on welfare out of laziness and an unwillingness to engage with society.

Jackson6612It also gives him an opportunity to sharpen the message: that, for example, the welfare state denies moral hazard (what does this mean?)
The "welfare state" is what the UK is - where the government helps out people who are poor or unemployed through, for example, free healthcare and unemployment benefits. This sentence is arguing that the system of the welfare state ignores the fact that, as a result of all these benefits without asking for anything in return, the morality of the people who use it is going to be damaged.

Jackson6612Indeed, Guardian columnist John Harris said Cameron sounded more like Margaret Thatcher (what did Thatcher do?) than the progressive that he used to portray himself as.
Too much to say here! Try Wikipediaing Thatcher. She was the previous Conservative prime minister who encouraged a society of consumerism. Many people think she was out of touch. In the past Cameron has been careful to distance himself from some of her stricter politices.

Jackson6612"Then, as now, there was a spasm of over-the-top sentencing (excess of judicial sentencing, is this correct?) and political rhetoric accompanied by a rising sense that something in society was very wrong, which too many people at the top failed to grasp."
Yes, but also that the sentences passed do not fit the crime (for example, six months in prison for stealing a bottle of water during the riots).

Hope this helps!
Triident, I'm very much thankful to you for all the help. I know it would have taken your a lot of time. I really appreciate it. I hope you like the forums and keep on helping me! Emotion: smile

Best wishes

Jackson
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Hi again

I need your help with some follow-on questions. Please help me to clear the confusion.

TriidentCameron's controversial welfare reforms will also benefit if people start to change their way of thinking to be less sympathetic to the rioters. These reforms contain the ideology that the poor are somehow 'different' to the rest of us. Cameron thinks that they depend on welfare out of laziness and an unwillingness to engage with society.
I would have used 'from' instead of "to". Would it be okay?

Jackson6612It also gives him an opportunity to sharpen the message: that, for example, the welfare state denies moral hazard (what does this mean?)
What does "denies" mean here? Does it mean that Cameron thinks that welfare system shouldn't be such that it becomes moral hazard for the society?

TriidentToo much to say here! Try Wikipediaing Thatcher. She was the previous Conservative prime minister who encouraged a society of consumerism. Many people think she was out of touch. In the past Cameron has been careful to distance himself from some of her stricter politices.
What's the problem with encouraging a society of consumerism as long as society has money and people have jobs?

Jackson6612Margaret Thatcher's response engendered (produced) little admiration – "Not for the first time, she was unable to strike the right note when a broad sense of social understanding was required," The Times wrote. Its judgment of Ms. Thatcher's response could have just as easily (what does "as easily" mean here? The structure for such phrases is usually "as...as" but there here there is no "as" after "easily") described Cameron yesterday, Harris wrote.
My question is in red in the quote above.

Regards

Jackson
Help, please!